New committee set to honor foreign-born veterans

12/27/2016

A new commission will help immigrant military members receive needed services.

Service members come from a great diversity of backgrounds, and the veteran experience will vary somewhat based on these divergent origins. Therefore, it's worth investigating the needs and perspectives of different groups of veterans to find out how to better serve and honor these individuals who have given so much for their country.

It's to this end that President Barack Obama recently created a commission specifically to study and work with foreign-born veterans to ensure these new Americans have access to services and benefits that suit their requirements. Honoring all service members means ensuring everyone is receiving exemplary treatment, whatever that may entail on an individual level.

Serving new American service members
The official White House blog post announcing the new Interagency Working Group explained that foreign-born service members have made extraordinary contributions to the armed forces, playing a part in the long-term American traditions of immigration and building strength through diversity. Ensuring their adopted country gives back to these personnel is the commission's primary task.

Veterans born overseas are often interested in becoming naturalized citizens, sometimes during military programs such as the Naturalization During Basic Training Initiative. The White House posting pointed out that despite the existence of such processes, some service members still encounter too many setbacks during their quests to move through the immigration system. Smoothing this pathway is an example of a service the new working group can tackle right out of the gate.

It's important that during and after their military service, veterans are afforded the opportunity to live life well, the White House explained. The post quoted Obama's address to naturalized veterans and family members, explaining his commitment to their continued well-being.

"All of you did something profound: You chose to serve. You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. In a time of war, some of you deployed into harm's way. You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July - duty, responsibility, and patriotism," the president stated.

Secretary of the Army praises diversity
A naturalization ceremony also provided an opportunity for Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning to explain how diversity among recruits strengthens the military and country. Two veterans were among those naturalized at the ceremony where Fanning gave his address, and he noted that the diversity of backgrounds among soldiers is one of the elements that makes the Army strong. Fanning explained that nearly 20 percent of Medal of Honor recipients have been immigrants, demonstrating that valor in military service comes from individuals from a multitude of origins.

At the ceremony, French immigrant and retired Army Captain Florent Groberg received "Outstanding American by Choice" honors, an award given to naturalized citizens who have given back to their adopted country. Groberg received the Medal of Honor after a tour of duty in Afghanistan and explained that his ability to achieve so much in service of the nation despite being born overseas demonstrates that anything is possible in America with the application of effort. These are the types of stories that have led to the creation of the new working group to assist foreign-born vets.

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